Friday, 31 July 2009

Back to the waterways project, doodling

Frog Island Factories, Vivien Blackburn

I've been playing with a new sketchbook that has brown wrapping paper pages - there's something really nice about brown wrapping paper! (even if the paper in this book is very thin)

This is from a plein air sketch done some time ago and was intended to be done simply in a range of browns. The Lyra skintones set has a gorgeous range that goes from soft apricots, through mauvey browns to siennas and umbers. I combined these with a brown Pitt pen.

As it developed I decided to add a touch of icy blue in the sky, canal and touches of it reflecting in the corrugated factory rooftops. I like the coldness, cooling down the warmth of all that brown.

It may be worth developing this as a painting, looser but with a limited colour range like this?

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Last light

For the last two days there have been wonderful clouds in the sky heralding a change in weather and some much needed rain. I started the clouds for this piece from life, but the sun was blinding even on dark paper and of course the clouds moved constantly across the sky. This is common of course in plein air work and I usually get the outlines and values in place then work on it on site or back at the studio.

I took a few shots of the clouds for reference and started playing with them in the studio using pastels on a lovely half sheet of Canal paper by St-Armand in Blue Denin. As I manipulated the clouds, the sea and distant headland just arrived unbidden. What started out as reality morphed into a mix of reality, memory and wishful thinking.

I don't use pastels often, but enjoy the freedom they give when done loose and large. There seem to be as many techniques of laying down colour with pastel as there are people who use them. I feel still very much a learner when using them, as they aren't as familiar to me through use as some other mediums.

The heavy clouds seemed to fit the scene of last light before night, covering the land and ocean and waiting for the rainstorm to arrive.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Sailing away... or towards me

While I was pootling around on the edges of Lake Michigan in a motorised rubber dinghy, I sketched one of the sailboats coming back into the marina. At first I was drawing madly and squinting for detail - but of course detail is exactly what you lose with distance. In all the photos I'm sure things aren't right! I know nothing about sailboats - so my brain was no doubt filling in things I didn't really see. (I was in Chicago and Racine for a month, see my own blog entry here.)

Never did get a chance to go out sailing for a day, despite offers from a few of the fellow boat residents. (one day was too rough, one day had no wind at all)

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Rocks in Rockport

Continuing with the rocks theme - this is my drawing of a view which apparently is very popular with the people who draw and paint when they visit Rockport Massachusetts. So much so that I decided to call this drawing Motif #2 - given that Motif #1 was already taken! ;)

Rockport Motif #2
9" x 12", coloured pencil on Saunders Waterford HP
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I've managed to find exactly where I sat on Google's Street view and you can see what I saw below. Except they took the film on a cloudy day while I had a lovely blue sky and balmy weather in the mid September 2006.

View Larger Map

That path you can see below is where I sat - as you can see on the right as recounted in my this sketchbook blog post about my trip to Rockport - Sunday 17th September: Rocky Neck and Rockport, Massachusetts.

I found the trick with the rocks was to look for colour and striations in order to provide interest and form. That and work fast when it's late afternoon because the shadows change fast!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

A rocky weekend

I hate to follow hot on the heels of Vivien's post on rocks, but they were squarely in my world all weekend.

Flatrock is named for - well - its flat rocks. they stretch like building blocks out into the sea with a beach of sorts of huge slabs of glacier-smoothed rock. Early on Sunday morning I got up before sunrise to catch the light on the ocean and take some photos and do a little sketching.

I wanted to get a sense of the layers of rocks and how they are formed. This will be a build up to a major drawing in detail of a section of these rock formations. I think that pencil will allow me to create the detail that I want in this piece and its availability for closer inspection is ever present.

On Sunday, I hiked the Manuels River trail downstream and found out that the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland was once a section of Africa - albeit 200 million years ago. This river trail is beautiful and the shallow pools are a magnet for young families and children to paddle in. Further down the trail the shallow river is littered with boulders as if a giant hand scattered them there - a paradise for geologists.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Sketching rocks in mixed media - stages

Rocks between Sennen Cove and Lands End finished, watercolour, biro and coloured pencil in the moleskine folio watercolour book, approximately 10x11 inches, Vivien Blackburn

Rocks between Sennen Cove and Lands End stage 2, watercolour added loosely, biro and watercolour, approximately 10x11 inches, Vivien Blackburn

Rocks between Sennen Cove and Lands End prelininary biro sketch, approximately 10x11 inches, Vivien Blackburn

Jeanette has issued a Paint/Sketch Rocks challenge on her blog and this was done in response.

Unfortunately it's from a photo, as Sennen Cove is 320 south and west of me right now so popping over wasn't an option - but I'd wanted to sketch the fantastic rocks there and thought this was my chance. I also like the figure perched precariously, though confidently, on the edge, giving the rocks scale and adding a little drama - well I don't 'do' heights so someone standing above that drop is drama to me!

I first sketched it freely in biro (Parker - they don't blob as much as some others) and then sloshed some watercolour on it quite loosely. Next I added some scribbles of coloured pencil and some more biro.

You can see a slide show of previous paintings/sketches of rocks here - they are something that fascinates me with their shapes, cracks, facets, crevices, ledges, colour changes and general complexity, not to mention trying to get the feeling of hardness, jaggedness or smoothness and their innate dangerousness.

This is the first time I've used the moleskine folio watercolour book, other than the try-out doodles in various media on the first page. I quite like it.

It's only half a hundred!

Today I hope you'll join us all in wishing Sarah a really splendid day today - celebrating her 50th birthday at her party on a beach in Cornwall.

Below you can find some pictures we've created and a few words we've written by way of......

a Blogging Birthday Card to the Birthday Girl!


Happy birthday Sarah!
May the waves never be small and the horizon never come closer and may the "sailing" always be challenging!

...s@#$'s getting heavier every year!!...

Jeanette: Sarah, Happy Birthday. I hope your day is everything you want it to be and that you spend time with family and friends who give you pleasure.

Fifty years is a milestone that some dread, and others look forward to. Although I have been there a few years ahead of you, I can.t offer many words of advice that ease the path towards your next milestone in life. Just keep doing what you're doing, its obviously working very well.

Laura: Happy Big Birthday, Sarah! No need to go looking for the fountain of youth--it is found in the act of painting!

Lindsay: Sarah, welcome to the very democratic group of "over 50". Thou' you can't be 20 on Sugar Mountain, you can sure be any age you want anywhere else! Many Happy Returns of The DAY!!!

Katherine: Sarah - Many congrats on reaching a really great age! This is not a time for feeling "over the hill" - it's a time for standing tall and looking out at the sweeping vistas of what still lies in front of you!

Have a great birthday party down on the beach - I wish I was there!

Vivien: Happy Birthday Sarah!

Have a great day with good friends, good food, wine and the sea - what more could anyone want? :>)

Here's to you sailing on painting for another 50 <>

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Bring on the Birdies

Coot Nest in Victoria Park
pencil and coloured pencils in Moleskine sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

This year, I've started drawing water birds for the very first time. It sort of goes with the territory. First you have the water - and then the water birds turn up. Water and birds are almost becoming indivisible to me since everywhere I go I see birds when I see water.

Spring was fun with all the tiny birdies coming out to play for the first time. This was after a few weeks of very loud high pitched squawking if anything came near a hidden nest. It took me a while to catch on that was what was going on.

Coots are the sculptors of the waterbird world.

Coots have elaborate 'on the water' nests which are continuously built and repaired it seems while the babes are young. I sketched the family of coots you can see above in Victoria Park. Mum and Dad busied themselves with housework and looking after the nest - which was of course has to be extended extension as their kids grew up and out! It also provided a good chance to study ripples - which are not easy to draw as they change continuously!

Herons on the other hand are complete posers! They also practice nonchalence and studied indifference as a sideline.

Bert takes personal grooming very seriously
pencil in sketchbook

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Bert - my heron at the Ecology Park Pond - never hides when posing prominently is an option.

On the other hand he never likes his fans to get too close and is much happier if we keep our distance.

I find him completely fascinating because of the contortions he goes through in terms of changing what his body looks like. When he's stretched out he's absolutely enormous and yet he can curl his neck and body up and make himself look very small as well.

My sketches of him going through his normal grooming routine (this boy could groom for GB!) were done while sitting on top of the Ecology Pavilion roof looking down at him perched on the rail of Heron Bridge. Which is so named because it's his favourite perching place by far.

He has a routine which is somewhat repetitive and I found it easiest to start several sketches on the same page and then work on whichever one he was in at the time - swopping around as he did.

There's no mistake with the leg. He does all his grooming while standing on one leg. I told you he was a poser!

Friday, 3 July 2009

Plein Air In June, With The Best of Intensions

Thatcher Pond,Dead Tree, More Rain Arriving
10" x 10"
canvas board
with mat

Last month, I resolved to finally just do it! I packed up my tubes of oil in my nice pochad and trekked out to my favorite haunt: Thatcher Pond. Almost without exception, everyday I had time to go out with my paints, it either rained, or was threatening to do the same. My little plein air experiments continued and if it looks like the light was the same on all the days, it pretty much was the reality of the situation!

I've had a request to show the Waterways Project in my village and I've been busy framing some of these new pieces. Now I have to catalogue them and add prices. Fingers tightly crossed for a possible first sale!

Without Mat

Des Plains River, Inundation
8" x 10"
Oil on canvas panel

Irving Park Canoe Launch
9" x 12"
oil on canvas

Thatcher Pond, One Lone Heron, Bullfrogs Croaking
8" x 10"
Oil on canvas panel

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Middle Cove

Middle Cove beach oils 8 x 16

If you mention Middle Cove to anyone on the Avalon Peninsula, they will know exactly where it is. The pebble beach slopes to the sea and is fed by a river which crosses the beach.

It is synonmous with capelin fishing and during the short season, the roads and beach are impassable with people and cars all trying their hand at getting some fish. The gulls and the humpback whales are usually the heralds of capelin season. This link to some photos on Flickr by Ideaphore show the whales having a feast. Its a true wonder to see this in person as they're so close to shore.

Here's a short video that gives you a feel for the moment and place.

On this day the beach was quiet with few people around, just how I like it! The water was still with just a slight wave lapping on the shore.What interested me was the colour of the water that morning. It was an amazing shade of turquoise, purple and golds of the rocks reflected in the water. I still may tinker with this piece a little to refine the beach and water, but will leave it a few days to percolate.

A closer view of the piece.

And now a little history, as I always think its good to know more about the soil you stand on and its roots.

The area encompassing Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove was within the boundaries of lands granted to the London and Bristol Company in 1610. In 1627, the company experienced financial difficulties and evidently made lands available to private groups. The name Logy Bay itself first appeared on a Southwoods map in 1675. Despite this, permanent settlement did not begin until the early 1800’s. The earliest record of settlement in Logy Bay was in 1818 when Luke Ryan, a fisherman, sought permission to build a fishing room. The earliest records of settlement in Outer Cove and Middle Cove appear around 1827, but occupation here most likely predated this year.

The early settlers of Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove were Irish immigrants predominately from the Counties of Kilkenny, Waterford, Wexford and Cork. In particular, the town of Inistioge in Kilkenny was the origin of most of the pioneers of Logy Bay. These early settlers were attracted to the area by the easy access to the excellent fishing grounds that lay just offshore and by the good farmland that dotted the region.

Between 1827 and 1830 there were 9 petitions for land in Logy Bay, 3 in Middle Cove and 30 in Outer Cove. By the 1850’s, the Irish had established themselves here and proceeded to shape the landscape. Irish heritage is still strong here today and can be seen through such things as religion, folkways, music, and dialect.

Source: The Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove Heritage Committee